Colombia will be looking to repeat their standout performance in Brazil four years ago with an opening Group H match against Japan in Russia
Brazil 2014 was the summer that Colombia star James Rodriguez announced himself to the international stage with an impressive tournament, and the Bayern Munich forward will be hoping that he can replicate his form in Russia this year.
Colombia will clash with Japan on Tuesday in the opening Group H fixture held at the Mordovia Arena, Saransk at 1pm BST (8am ET). Colombia are favourites to win the game and are already dark horses to make it far in the competition, though Japan could follow the streak of massive upsets already happening where underdog teams have been pulling stellar performances over the star sides (Mexico, Sweden, Iceland).
Senegal and Poland make up the rest of Group H which is already a tough batch of sides featuring the stellar individual talents of Sadio Mane and Robert Lewandowski. But Colombia will be hoping to better their quarter-final finish in Brazil four years ago, starting with advancing from the group stages.
Here is all you need to know ahead of the fixture between the two sides.
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on TV on BBC One or streamed live online using the BBC iPlayer.
Squads & Team News
Colombia have the benefit of being able to call upon a slew of great defenders, including Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez and Barcelona’s Yerri Mina.
Rodriguez is expected to play a crucial role for Colombia once again this summer, alongside Radamel Falcao.
Potential Colombia XI: Ospina, Arias, D. Sanchez, Mina, Fabra, C. Sanchez, Uribe, Cuadrado, James, Cardona, Falcao.
Leicester forward Shinji Okazaki has potentially suffered an injury blow, leading to his World Cup ending before it has even started. Reports have emerged that the striker has sustained a problem with his right calf. Hannover forward Takuma Asano is on the standby list for Japan if the Okazaki is set to leave the camp.
Potential Japan XI: Kawashima, Sakai, Yoshida, Makino, Nagatomo, Hasebe, Yamaguchi, Haraguchi, Honda, Kagawa, Osako.
Betting & Match Odds
A win for Colombia has dabblebet offering odds of 8/11. Japan are deemed to be a 16/1 bet and a draw is available at 5/1.
Click here to see all of dabblebet’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
Colombia forward Rodriguez was a relatively unknown figure heading into the Brazil finals four years ago but immediately made his mark on international football when he emerged from the tournament as top scorer, with six goals.
He has risen as a global star in the four years since, signing for the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, winning two Champions League titles and the Bundesliga – where he has also shone as an instrumental figure for his side.
Falcao is another Colombia forward who is expected to make an impact in Russia this summer. Despite a lacklustre stint in the Premier League where he struggled to perform to his usual standard – spells at Manchester United and Chelsea were a massive disappointment – he has since excelled upon his return to Monaco.
The 32-year-old forward is Colombia’s captain and will shoulder the responsibility of leading the line, and has the potential to take his country far in the tournament.
Japan aren’t expected to make it far in Russia despite finishing in their qualifying group ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia, facing tough challenges against not only Colombia but Poland and Senegal as well – who all have good chances of making it to the last 16.
Okazaki remains Japan’s biggest star after winning the Premier League with Leicester in 2016, and his absence will be a massive blow for his side if reports are true and he is forced to pull out of the squad due to injury.
Shinji Kagawa remains another big name but he hasn’t had the brightest of seasons with Borussia Dortmund, and Japan are lacking with attacking options up front.
Dusseldorf forward Genki Haraguchi was Japan’s top scorer in the qualification stages with four goals, and will be optimistic that he can continue his form in Russia. He is an experienced Bundesliga player, having racked up 100 club appearances in Germany.